VSA Council 5.3.2015

Hey Everyone, we are starting a little late, but it’s fine.

7:12//Consensus Agenda

Finance: Last finance committee of the year. There were a lot of applications for funding. The notes on the handout are inaccurate. Josh, do you want to give a description?

Josh Tempro: ASU needed a correction for a budget. They had underbudgeted. Body Positive had stuff. NSO had problems with B&G security costs. VISA requested items. GAAP is having a panel tomorrow. Christian Fellowship wanted a guitar, but they don’t have proper storage.

Finance: 2015 got 6500. It’s because of Senior Week. We gave them extra money for the extra programming. We preserved the price of Senior Week tickets. We hope this isn’t a problem next year since we gave them extra money in annual budgeting

Maya (at-large): What did the Christian Fellowship want money for?

Finance: They wanted a guitar. They don’t have storage, so we want to readdress the issue in the Fall.

Maya: I think it is important to provide funds for groups like this for the importance of self-care.

Finance: This is just one fund app in the whole year.

Strong: In decided that, we knew that they will work on getting storage for next year. We didn’t want to give them an expensive item with no storage over the summer. We wanted to make sure it didn’t get storage over the summer.

SoCos: We’ve bought instruments before. We just want a safe space for them.

7:21//Forum with Chris Roellke

Roellke: Thank you to outgoing VSA Exec. It’s been a pleasure working with you. I also want to thank Zoe Fullerton for her work. I want to welcome the new leadership. I’ve been fortunate over the years to have very positive times with VSA. I’ve been here for 17 years. I came as a member of the faculty. Been Dean of the College for seven years. I directed the Ford Scholars program. I still stay connected with the work in education. I’m involved with the community as well. This year, my attention has been focused on issues of campus climate and safety and security. I’ve worked to help improve dining at Vassar. Cappy and I have been having sophomore class meetings throughout the year. Every sophomore has been invited. We’ve had 400 total participants. Time this year has been spent on alumnae/i engagement and outreach. I work with the AAAVC Leadership. I’ve tried to promote Dialogues Across Differences. All of the senior officer will be trained over the summer with NCBI. We are in the middle of a number of searches, including a new director of Safety and Security. We are eager for student feedback. We are looking for a new director of the ALANA center. They hope to have some finalists come to campus before the end of the year.

Josh Sherman: Three questions about dining. Will Aramark be given a one-year extension? You’ve mentioned alternative dining options, do you have more on that? What are you guys looking at for the next couple of years?

Roellke: Aramark is on a one year extension. We have put out a bid for three suppliers, including Aramark. We do have a fourth option, which is independent. The three external providers will be getting back to us in about two weeks. We are looking for feedback from them. We want community presentations next semester. The students are the main consumers. We’ve collected data on our peer institutions, including high-performing peers. What we are looking for is a new vendor to fit the needs of our members and stay steady. Our facilities are outdated. We need to think about long-term structural changes. I think it’s a three to five year gig. Students are looking for quality, flexibility, grab and go, and engaging seniors. Seniors are also interested in buying the block plan. We want to integrate seniors into the plan. We don’t want to put people out of business. This was a common theme in all of the peer institutions.

Anish: Cappy sent out an email last semester. What are the updates?

Roellke: Zachariah Mampilly and Mia Mask are presenting to us about Chief Diversity Officers soon. They are a little behind. We don’t want them to undermine the work of CIE. We are also working with the departure of Julian Williams. I’ve been working with Charlotte Swanson and Renee Pabst. We’ve hired additional student interns to help with bystander intervention. We want to help for this upcoming Fall. Visit the Strengthening Vassar website. It’s updated monthly. We are chipping away at those commitments.

Antony: Has there been any considerations for allowing students off the meal plan in the dorms?

Roellke: No. We would be a true outlier to not have those in residence off of the meal plan. It would be cost prohibitive. We need to improve the dining first.

Tyler: You mentioned the search for the ALANA center director. Is the goal to have them on campus before Finals?

Roellke: Yes, we hope to announce the new director prior to student departure.

Tyler: Going back to the promises list. One option was having a sixth house advisor position?

Roellke: We are actually gonna have an additional 1 and a half. We split each position into a variety of different roles. They helped support campus activities, international students, etc. We made all five house advisors full time. Now we have five FTE. They are about to hire a full-time post-bacc. The same holds true for office of international services.

StuLife: You’ve mentioned a lot of hiring. People under the age of 30 seem to be leaving a lot. It seems like the people who do the most to support students are leaving in droves. What do you think we can do to have them stay?

Roellke: I disagree with your characterization. Elizabeth Schrock wanted to go into social work. Luz Burgos-Lopez got a promotion. Julian Williams was given a better job somewhere else. A lot of these positions are entry level positions. They aren’t designed to be longer term positions. House Advisors are expected to be short-term. The expectation is to be here three or four years. We have had a brain drain. Any vacancy is an opportunity, though.

Anish: Does that show that these positions show less of a focus on the ALANA center?

Roellke: We were hoping we could have stability. We made it a director level position and a full-year position. I think that those two commitments hopefully will allow us to have somebody who can stay longer. One change we made was that we want somebody with five to seven years of experience.

Susie: I’ve been involved with the ALANA center. Because of the high turnover, many of us see instability with this turnover.

Roellke: It’s a legitimate concern. We do conduct exit interviews though. I fully acknowledge the affect on the community. Where we are now is actually eliminating positions, not growing.

2017: I wanted to ask about the Mental Health and Wellness fund. How’s that looking?

Roellke: It has been accessed. It is administered jointly. It is operational. Shortly after the President’s Email, an anonymous donor helped to keep that fund going longer.

2017: You mentioned Julian Williams stepping down. As an attorney, he was acting as counsel in some cases. Is that necessary for his successor?

Roellke: We do have outside general counsel. It’s not a top priority. A legal background is helpful.

Ops: You spoke about NCBI. Could you speak to how that relates to the existing center?

Roellke: We hope they can be synergistic. Collette Cann has been on leave, but we are looking forward to her coming back and helping them both together.

Ops: The smoking ban is taking effect soon? How is that transition looking?

Roellke: An email is going out this week about the Transition to Smoke-Free. Our data indicates a small percent of you smoke cigarettes on a regular basis. There will be small signage on entrances. There will be notecards for people to hand to people on campus. There will be more communications coming out. It’s July 1. There will be bumps. The enforcement is meant to be friendly.

2016: You mentioned stuff with Safety and Security. What have you guys actually done?

Roellke: We’ve been working hard to find the new Director. We left some open positions available for the new Director to have a say in the hiring of officers. Additional training has taken place. We are eager for our new director. How do we best deploy Campus Patrol? All candidates asked about doing rounds in the residence halls. What does it mean to have an open campus? What is not open to the public? One major controversy was the body cameras. The community was divided on that.

Josh: Has the committee discusssed weapons policies? What is being discussed about authority?

Roellke: As long as I am Dean of the College, our Safety and Security will not be armed. And we will not be a police force. The advantage to me to doing accredidation would not be moving toward what you just talked about it. Part of the accredidation is having professional development protocols.

Antony: There was talk early about security cameras around campus?

Roellke: Video surveillance is already happening on campus. It’s in strange areas. We put a security camera there to see who is taking the Greek yogurt in the Retreat. We are behind on video surveillance. It needs to be comprehensively and transparently. It’s not gonna happen overnight.

Davison: I had a question about the smoke ban? WHo supported this?

Roellke: The Dutchess County Health Department approached us about this. There was a good rationale to make this change. The resolution passed on CCL. It was endorsed by the president. It was going to be in 2014, but we wanted more time. We aren’t suggesting you can’t smoke, you just can’t smoke around other people on campus.

Main: The VSA is restructuring. What do you want to see with that?

Roellke: I’ve read through the report, but not all of it. I commend the VSA in their willingness to embark on the review. I think it is helpful to have an outside look. The piece that I thought was interesting to read through was that you wanted your own autonomy, but at the same time, we are the outlier in our peers for hte lack of support given by the College. We don’t supply an advisor. There might be a way in which we can collaborate. You work hard. I think I want to read through the report more. I think accessibility was a major theme. One of your recommendations was paid exec positions. Those steps make our orgs more accessible. I look forward to working collaboratively.

Cushing: I wondered what action would be taken against people who delayed the transition?

Roellke: I think that is something CCL will tackle next year. No penalties, just education. They still need to figure that out. Nothing in the first year.

2017: Back to restructuring. Several issues might not be changed by VSA restructuring. There is only one student representative in the Trustee meetings.

Roellke: I can’t speak on behalf of the board. They took the VSA recommendation seriously. I, as the Dean of the College, have to make sure that the Trustees are able to meet with the Students. The Thursday night before they have a student dinner.

Finance: How do you end up on the Board?

Roellke: Most are alums. You want a diversity of expertise. Capacity to help the College. They are expected to give to the annual funds.


Finance: Everyone should be in the proximity of a budget. The VSA stipend number was wrong last time. We budgeted for the most expensive option. We dissolved the a capella recording fund. That’ll be done through discretionary. We increased our funds all over. We discussed cutting the Community fund, but decided to keep it just in case. We want to urge people to utilize that fund. Jumping down to classes and residences, we changed the numbers. We included money for miscellaneous things. These are guidelines. House budgets make up a large percentage of our surplus. All houses can apply for more money.

Cushing: Where does the expectation lie?

Finance: We budget for our houses as orgs, not residences. You don’t have to do anything. It would be nice, because programming.

Antony: For events, can we apply for more funding.

Finance:¬†Jewett probably will have to ask for more if they want 7 Deadly. You can apply for funds for anything, honestly. We gave Choice more money. For Issues and Activism, there is a decrease in spending, but there were budget increases overall. Some groups applied for a lot less funding. Identity orgs had an overall increase. We have shown our commitment to identity based orgs. Religious and Spiritual saw an increase. The last thing I want to say is on our methodology. We set the number of students to 2,660. We don’t know how many people will be here next year. We put in a $12,000 contingency barrier for next year, on top of the surplus.

Antony: Back to identity orgs. Why did CBS receive a cut?

Finance: They asked for that cut. They asked for less money.

Josh: What are the minimum number of events you should hold?

Ops: Regular orgs have to have one all-campus event every semester.

TA: Direct response: I’ve been told by Natalia about doing two events per semester. Nevermind.

2017: House teams “shall plan” residential events. That’s vague.

2016: If people didn’t fill out a budget, did you punish them?

Finance: No. I’m not a punishment kind of person. If you got an application to us, we reviewed it accordingly. There’s money still there if they want money in Sept.

Main: VCSS was given a small budget. Why?

Finance: Most of their events were collabs. They didn’t use their own budget.

2015: Are you routing the Traditions into one fund?

Finance: I think we will put separate accounts.

At-large: Can you name the orgs that didn’t apply for funding?

Finance: TONCA, Vassarina, Camerata, etc. They have plans.

Activities: Pre-orgs go through three semesters before they can apply to be orgs. There are requirements about people becoming orgs. We met with the orgs this semester and did reviews on them. We, as a committee, went through the certification. They can be certified at the end of any semester. Pre-orgs get a budget. They can apply to special purpose funds. You have to have built a general body in your preorg and that you’ve been doing programming.

2017: Following up on Treasurers. Isn’t it required to have one?

Activities: People aren’t always on top of things like they should be.

Mark: Rollover?

Finance: We were more relaxed about rollover. If you fundraise money, then you are entitled to rollover. There are two ways to do the appeals process. They can present their case and then Finance can talk about it, or we can do it the other way.

Reuban: We are addressing the music budget. We want more money for our stuff.

Finance: There’s no Serenading concert. ViCE is the only org that we will give money to wihtout a plan for how to spend that money. We also made a ViCE discretionary fund. It needs to be beyond you, Ben, about whether or not there was going to be a Spring and Fall concert. It needs to be with everyone. Especially since you’re not an elected position. There’s so little accountability with the student body.

Reuban: We usually get rollover?

Finance: That’s not appropriate for an institution like ViCE to have rollover. In fact, there was a decrease in your fund.

Reuban: If we have a Fall and Spring Concert, how should we get the money?

Finance: It needs to be discussed with your board and with Finance committee. Another conversation is quality versus quantity. I want to make sure you have money in places to make these decisions.

Reuban: I think people will be frustrated with low quality concerts.

Finance: You won’t spend 40k on the Fall concert. The serenading concert didn’t have a 5k approval form this year.This isn’t an attempt to limit your funds. It’s more fair this way. We have to hear both appeals first and then decide our next steps.

Sarah Oliver (VHP): We had been told we would receive our requested budget but we had to meet again. I was told $1700 and then given $1000.

Finance: Because we have to do this budget on a micro and macro level, it takes time and things have to be changed around. After the appeal on Wednesday, we decided on $1000 because you listed two events as fundraisers but didn’t show the money. We made an agreement with Andrew Mead about VHP, Inc and VHP. We aren’t allowed to donate money.

Sarah: I think this was unfair that I received this email two hours before the meeting and I was the only one from my org able to attend this meeting.

Finance: I’m sorry about how that went. I think it’ll be better to have VHP apply to funds for more programming.

Finance: Things need to be clarified for how fund-raising works. Can we do an informal straw poll?

Student Life: I’m confused by the app. Was this an oversight about the fundraised money going into the org’s budget or the Inc’s budget.

Sarah: We put the vcash money in our VSA account and the cash goes to the INC.

Finance: You aren’t supposed to do that. The revenue cannot go to the INC if the cost is coming from the VSA. You have to keep these separate. I’ve spoken to Andrew about this. All of the money needs to go back into your VSA account.

2017: Can we discuss what we would like to see before deciding whether or not to vote down the budget?

Finance: I stand by the recommendations for both ViCE Music and VHP. There has been a lot of miscommunication this year. I think we all need to sit down and talk about what needs to happen next year.

Reuban: I recognize what Finance does. Speaking on behalf of ViCE, we standby having a 10k bump.

Finance: That means we have to find 10K somewhere.

StuLife: I was fairly upset about cutting the Fall concert. I don’t think Spring Concert was tangibly better than in years past. Money doesn’t solve things. I couldn’t tell the difference in cost. That doesn’t mean that I don’t think ViCE should spend that money, but I think Max has a good point about the decision making process. It’s a weird situation to have only a few people decide on this massive sum of money. The ViCE budget is distributed equitably. I’m in favor of more programming and I think this sets the stage. I like the allocation the way it is. The discretionary fund helps with this. I also stand behind the VHP allocation. I think it is a unique situation. It’s unusual to have such a large miscommunication. In terms of bylaws, yeah it is coercive that we have to vote the budget up and down together, but it recognizes the balance that we have to pull the money from somewhere. I would caution anyone against suspending the bylaws. That is playing with the money.

Reuban: I don’t think we can have a Fall and Spring concert with this money. We’ve always had a ViCE discretionary. I don’t think that having a labelled budget will make it more decentralized.

StuLife: Did it look like someone else’s money or unallocated money?

Finance: I’m sorry, but the way that that has been handled hasn’t been fair. The strings we have attached to the fund is that there needs to be a vote in the ViCE Exec board.

Josh Tempro: This is a long discussion. We really do think that opening up the funds is a lot of money. They have a large campus involvement, but it needs to be regulated. It needs to be decentralized and it will benefit the student body.

2017: If there is a budget expansion, it should go into discretionary, not ViCE Music directly. As far as VHP, since the miscommunication has been acknowledged, I’m leaning toward giving them something of that.

Ops: The current ViCE allocation, I’m comfortable with. The VHP situation is a little weird. The reason this bylaw is so stringent is because Finance puts in 40 hours to put this whole thing together. The VHP situation: I’m sorry this happened. That said, I don’t think we should vote down the entire budget. They can apply and get the money.

Cushing: Relatively, the ALANA center’s operating budget is $13000. Do we value the ALANA orgs over a slightly better concert? I personally don’t. I think we should think about how much money this is.

2015: Ben is the ViCE music head. I think what we are trying to say is that ViCE music has had a lot of problems with communication. A lot of decisions are made in a room with equally minded people. That causes some problems. One thing is to push you to step outside of that. This is a push the bounds of what ViCE music has been in the past.

Reuban: We picked him because we thought he would be represent the student body. We just want a Fall and Spring Concert on par with last year. We don’t want to get the same artists every year. With a higher budget, we can fit all genres.

Ben: When I was applying to be Music Chair was that I wanted to do something similar to what Maya was doing. I don’t want Music to be ViCE Hip Hop. I want a wide array. Having Maya’s budget makes that possible.

Activities: There’ s a problem with EB structures and turnovers. We had to make sure to have a great record. It’s important that you have the time to communicate institutional memory.

Ops: I want to move to adopt the motion.

Budget is approved.

Finance: With the ViCE Discretionary, money coming out of it has to be voted on by ViCE EB. Any money not spent goes to discretionary. ViCE received more money than last year. I am not just saying this because I helped create this budget. It was created by 30 people. I oversaw the process, but it was a collaborative work. It’s the best budget we’ve had since I came here.

9:22//Constituent Concerns

Ops: Five minute recess?

Motion fails.

9:27//Exec Reports

Activities: We’ve been doing EB reports. We are working on institutional memories. That’s basically all we’ve been doing.

Academics: Syllabus archive should be done soon. Dean Chenette should be sending out an email to faculty soon. Library Director search is ongoing. The last candidate coming tomorrow. The curricular proposals update. The final faculty meeting is on May 13. That’s when it will be voted on. I don’t have a sense that it will pass. We will see what happens.

9:29//Ops Resolution

Josh Sherman: We used to be able to buy things on campus in a student store. Let’s do a one-year trial for a vending machine that will sell things to students cheaply 24 hours a day. It’s a long trek into Arlington. If we run it, it would be cheaper. We could sell it at a small margin. Easy to acquire. It’s like an extra hour for interns to stock it. I’ve researched it. It’s perfectly doable. Can a resolution fund this? There is a way to do it somehow. The admin might want to do something in this space anyway. If we do it and pay for it, it can be cheaper. We are not going to have snacks on campus. We will sell things they don’t sell.

Tyler: I want to speak about the admin ideas. Rosaline Purdue has been thinking about this. I’m not sure where these conversations are now, but it was on the table in January.

StuLife: I’m intrigued by this. How much would this cost?

Josh: Less than $4k. It would be less than $1500 for one year. Menstrual supplies please.

Pres: This goes into new council next week.

2017: How binding would this be? How good of a way is it to bind the VSA to this?

Finance: I think 100%.

9:36//Open Discussion

2015: Congrats to the THs.

Finance: I’ve been thinking a lot about what I wanted to say. I’m gonna say what I want. I’ve seen a bunch of groups of people do this. My experience has been different. It has not always been the most positive experience. I think I’ve appreciated my time at this school so much more. This was going to be their activity. I’ve never had more confidence in a President for next year. I don’t think the VSA could have better prospects. I hope those not coming back in an official capacity, I hope you know you don’t need a title to be involved. You can engage with us in an unofficial capacity.

Tyler: Kiran and I want to give a shout out to ourselves and The Misc.

Kiran: I started coming to these meetings as a joke. I came to see my best friend and I stayed for you guys. I’ve enjoyed watching this council grow.

Jewettt: Thanks New Council. You look like a great group of people.

Ops: Food truck Friday was a roaring success. It will be back starting Orientation week. Now the sappiness. Shoutout to the at-large members and The Misc. I love all of council.

TA: Thanks for being awesome. Good luck next year.

2018: Sappy things too. Thanks for the great welcome. Good job house presidents.

Cushing: Being house president is incredibly hard. Have a plan next year with what you want to do with ResLife and the VSA.

President: I’m not a believer in shoutouts. It’s been an absolute pleasure working with you guys. Make the best of it. You can make change. Come to convocation on Wednesday.